Equating redefining marriage to civil rights is a popular tactic of the other side. Jeff Shafer of Alliance Defending Freedom argues that the principles underlying the push for racial equality are very different from the principles behind the push to redefine marriage:
May 17 marked the sixtieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Court ruled that the government-mandated racial segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. The Brown decision is an icon of American jurisprudence and justly holds a towering position in our legal history. Its ruling was a long overdue moral triumph, and a watershed moment in the elimination of state-enforced racial segregation.
...though rhetorically strategic, it is deeply cynical for this late stage of the sexual revolution to congratulate itself by assuming the mantle of the black civil rights movement, a movement that drew its moral resources from Christian precept. The orthodox expression of Christian faith is the sworn enemy of the sexual adventurism juggernaut. The containment of sexuality within covenanted procreative marriage is central to the historic order of Christian civilization. Destroying that norm is both the goal of the sexual revolution and a prerequisite to its remaking of social order.
The ascendant public regime consecrates public chaos in remaking marriage to eliminate from its essence the relation of husband and wife, and in reducing the biological relation of mother and father to child to an incidental manufacturing feature with no necessary relational meaning or responsibility attending it.
Which brings us to the belligerence of United States v. Windsor. There, the Supreme Court invalidated the federal definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman, discerning the law so stating to be but codified insult and meanness. Well, of course.
Perhaps predictably, prominent legal scholars have compared Windsor to Brown...But Windsor’s intentional obscurity and departure from governing standards make it notoriously difficult to explain the ruling as anything other than the Court using the occasion to confirm that a reimagined world is upon us, and the standards operable in the old model are no longer cognizable.
Not so Brown. Whatever the weaknesses in the Court’s rationale for the outcome, Brown’s ruling nevertheless was consonant with Fourteenth Amendment text and history, and with the normative implications of creation imago dei that the black civil rights movement pressed in its remonstrances. Windsor is not of that world.
It is a notable feature of Windsor that the “dignity” the Court attributed to same-sex couples given marital status is a state-conferred dignity, not an inherent one. That’s a curious innovation, but it makes sense in context, for two reasons. First, the Court was aiming, for the moment, to formally restrict its ruling only to federal acknowledgment of a marital status given by state law.
Second, the “state as dignity-source” is probably a design feature of the replacement worldview, bereft as it is of any other source for human dignity. In the aftermath of God’s banishment, our flexibility to remake humanity and its fundamental relations is accompanied by the sort of drawbacks one might expect when the universe is up for grabs—such as the loss of justification for much of our legal tradition. But that may take a while to come into clear view. The transition will proceed acceptably in the short term so long as we remain haunted by the biblical anthropology from which came our treasured concepts of equality and human dignity. For a time, we’ll recite the old principles through habit, if not principle. But that won’t endure, for their public plausibility ultimately depends on a critical mass sharing fidelity to their Source.
Read the rest of Shafer's article at The Public Discourse.